Mongolian Ethnic Groups: A Detailed Guide We Prepared For You

Right now across the globe, there are 7 billion people living. Hundreds of nationalities, thousands of languages, and there are only 3 million Mongolians. Living in their wide land, between modern and nomadic lifestyle.

But who actually are the Mongolians? Today, we're going to talk about the Mongolian ethnic groups that make up modern-day Mongolia and see what this means for the nation.

ABOUT MONGOLIA:

Not many people know about the country named Mongolia still exists in the 21st century. But you've probably heard of the Great Mongolian Empire, and probably Genghis Khan, who united the Mongolian tribes and created the largest empire in world history with territory from the whole Asia including whole China and Europe. 

Now, if you've heard of the Mongolian Empire, and you've heard of the Mongol people, and you've heard of Mongolia, you may be assuming that it is the home of the Mongols located in Central Asia, between China and Russia. 

With up and down in their history, now there are 19 different ethnic groups of Mongol people now in Mongolia. Each ethnic group has its very own special tradition, clothing, and culture. 

So we have some news about Mongolian ethnic groups for you! 

THE KHALKH

Mongolia is home to a wide range of Mongol peoples, but one group does have clear numerical superiority. The Khalkh, also spelled Khalkha or Halh, are the dominant ethnic group of Mongolia at roughly 80% of the total population and they are the core of all the Mongol peoples across North Asia. The Khalkha Mongols are considered the direct descendants of Chinggis Khan and therefore, the true preservers of Mongol culture.

young Mongolian couple wearing traditional clothes

In the 13th century, when Chinggis Khan formed the greatest empire in history by uniting all of the nomadic Mongol tribes he himself was Khalkha. The Khalkha Mongol language is the main Mongolia and all other Mongols speak variations or dialects of Halh. Halh is understood throughout Mongolia and by Mongols living in Central Asia. 

MINORITY MONGOL GROUPS: 

The other 18 Mongol ethnic groups of Mongolia are dispersed widely across the nation and have relatively low population numbers. All of them are totally different but still the same as Mongolians. 

Of an overall population of just over 3 million people, minority ethnic groups include Kazakhs 114,500 (3.9 percent) as well as several Mongol groups: Durvud 71,000 (2.4 percent), Bayad 50,800 (1.7 percent), Buriat 37,900 (1.3 percent) and Dariganga 26,800 (0.9 percent). 

ETHNIC GROUP IN WESTERN MONGOLIA: 

The Durvud,  who only make up about 3% of the total population, like most of the Mongol minority groups, mostly stay confined to a specific part of the country that was traditionally their own, in this case, the western provinces near the border of Russia. In the early 1600's, most of their ancestors (the Oirat) left their homeland, Dzhungaria, which is now part of the Xinjiang region of China, in hopes of settling in the rich pastures of the northern Caucasus Mountains.

In 1771, the majority of the Oirat decided to move back to Dzhungaria in order to escape the Russian dictatorship. Those who stayed in Russia became known as the Kalmyk, which means "to remain." Of those who left Russia, only a small group survived the long and difficult journey back to Dzhungaria.

Having arrived in the land of their ancestors, the surviving Oirat were accepted under Manchu rule and given pastures for grazing their herds. Their descendants are still found in western Mongolia as well as Kazakh people. 

The Kazakh of Mongolia belongs to a larger group of people who live primarily in Kazakhstan. Ethnically, they are of Turkic descent and are the second-largest Muslim group of Central Asia.

Eagle hunters of mongolia wearing traditional clothes and posing for a picture

The Kazakh developed a distinct ethnic identity in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. 

They are famous all around the world for being the Eagle hunters. They mostly live in western part of Mongolia, and speak Kazakh language.

And other etnhnic group, Bayad people are one of the Mongol tribes, residing in western Mongolia. In the 13th century the term "Mongol" grew into an umbrella term for a large group of tribes united under the rule of Chinggis Khan.

ETHNIC GROUPS IN NORTHERN MONGOLIA 

The Northern Mongolians, also known as the Buryat, are believed to be the descendants of the western Mongols and the northern Siberians. They primarily inhabit the forested lowland regions along the Russia-Mongolia border. The territory that once belonged to the Northern Mongolian's ancestry includes the regions along Lake Baikal, which is located in present-day Siberia.

Three-quarters of all Northern Mongolians still live there, in a region that is now known as the Buriat Autonomous Republic. 

The Northern Mongolians are very similar to the Khalkha Mongols, particularly in their physical features, dialects, and customs. In fact, they are often indistinguishable from neighboring Mongol tribes. However, they maintain a number of small differences, the most significant of which is their language.

As well as the Uriankhai, The Tuvinian in Mongolia inhabits a harsh mountainous region in the northern part of the country, near the border of Russia. There, the summers are hot and dry, while the winters are bitterly cold. Still, this region can have as many as 300 sunny days a year, and the extremely dry air helps people to withstand the cold winters and the hot summers.

Because the Tuvinian, like other Russian settlers, left their home territories in the Soviet Union many years ago and immigrated to Mongolia; their present "national" status is disputed. Some Tuvinian clans in Mongolia have maintained their native language, ethnic background, and traditional culture. 

Buriat family wearing traditional clothes

Other Tuvinian clans have been absorbed by the Mongolian culture. Their original language, Tuvin, contains many Mongolian words and uses the Cyrillic script. Most Mongolian Tuvinian also speak Halh, the national language of Mongolia.

ETHNIC GROUPS IN EASTERN MONGOLIA 

The Dariganga, a small people group of Mongolian origin, inhabit the southeastern regions of Mongolia. They are primarily located in the southern part of the Sühbaatar province, on a volcanic plateau near the Gobi Desert. The Dariganga belong to the eastern group of Mongols, which includes the Khalkha Mongols, the Buryat, and most of the Chinese Mongols.

The Dariganga language is closely related to Halh, and is often referred to as a Mongolian dialect. However, all Dariganga are also able to use Halh in conversation with other Mongols in North and Central Asia. 

The Zakhchin The religion of the early residents of the Mongolian region recognized only one uniform godly power, localized in the celestial vault. They also worshiped certain natural phenomena and believed in a life after death in the form of spirits (demons).

The artwork of the people, their great poetic talents, their epic works and the lyric poetry are outstanding. Singers and poets used to walk from camp to camp, singing their songs and epics, reflecting the expression of freedom and the immensity of the Mongolian steppes.

Ethnic distinctions among the Mongol subgroups are relatively minor. Tribal differences are usually not a political or social issue as the Mongols are a generally peaceful nation. 

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